Focus: Organising Evolution
Challenge Yourself, Creative Routine Hack, Productivity, Writing

Focus = Permission to Work on One Single Thing

This year I’m attempting to juggle 4 blogs…for someone who hasn’t blogged regularly in years, that’s quite like Mission Impossible.

I have no idea whether I’m going to succeed or fail – that is whether by the end of this year I’ll have four blogs with each at least one post a week – but “success or failure” is actually not the point. The point is that I want to develop and test a system that allows me to do so, and without stress!

My system is very simple:

  1. Figure out what I want with each blog, where I’m going with it, what’s it for. I did that last year, and have been fine-tuning for the past couple of weeks. Apart from that, I consider it a Work in Progress as I learn more every week.
  2. Set up a very simple, general and repeatable blog schedule (editorial calender) for each blog with the number of weekly and monthly posts. Instead of planning individual content ahead, I set up this schedule by post types – who says that only long posts are valuable?
  3. Create templates for these post types.
  4. Batch process as much as makes sense, for instance finding content, image design, outlining, formatting,…
  5. Give myself permission to focus on one single thing at a time and do it – no “thinking ahead” or “thinking about” unless I actually work on it, and that includes planning. When inspiration strikes – great! I can choose to take a note and leave it until later or to go with the flow of the moment. That means I give myself permission to focus on a different single thing and create time-space for it right now by dropping whatever else I might have been doing now. There’s no place for guilt and shoulds, neither now nor later. If it doesn’t work then I’ve learned something. 🙂

However, the system is not complete without a crucial sixth point, and that’s the topic of a separate post.

By the way, this post itself is an example for a spontaneous make-room-for-this-right-now decision: The title is sparked by a phrase Randy Ingermanson (“the Snowflake guy”) used in his latest newsletter – here’s the part of the newsletter that relates to it.

Organization: Evolution, Not Revolution

January is the big-money month of the year, I suspect, for people who run gyms. And people who sell diet plans. And anyone promising to make you over fast.

We all want a revolution in our lives, and January is the official month for that revolution.

But the revolution never seems to come. Not for most people, anyway.

Most Revolutions Fail

But there’s another way, and it’s a better way.

Focus: Organising Evolution
Image credit: Free-Photos via Pixabay

In my day job, I’m the director of software engineering for a small biotech company. In the early days, I was the whole software group. We used to hold a weekly meeting where we’d set goals for the next week. Everybody had ideas on what they wanted. They all wanted something different. They all wanted it right away. It wasn’t unusual for them to propose six months worth of work. All to be done in the next week.

It’s nice to be wanted, but there’s such as a thing as too much of a good thing. So after I heard all the things they wanted, I’d remind them that I was one guy and I sometimes had to eat and sleep. And I’d say my famous phrase. “Evolution, not revolution.”

I told them they really could have everything they wanted. Just not today. I’d challenge them to decide on just one new feature to deliver in the coming week.

They’d chew on that for a few minutes and pick a feature. That gave me focus, which is permission to work on one thing and to not work on the mountain of other things. And in a week, I’d deliver. (Usually.) Then we did it all over again the next week. And over the course of time, we did some pretty cool things. Bit by bit.

Evolution Often Succeeds

You can do amazing things this year, just not all at once.

The plan I adopted for myself some time ago is based on my buzzphrase, “Evolution, not revolution.” It has two parts. Here are both of them together:

  • Every month, choose one new skill to learn.
  • Every month, choose one new habit to create.

I talked about the first of these last month. You can reread my article on The “Skill of the Month Club” in my e-zine archives here.

The “Habit of the Month Club” is similar. At the beginning of the month, choose one new good habit that you want to create. It should be something you intend to do every day (or at least every work day) that will make you a better, more focused, more productive person. Like writing. Or flossing. Or exercising. Or eating broccoli. Or whatever.

I blogged about habits just a few weeks ago, so if you want the full scoop on it, read The Five Year Road to Glory.

The short version is this:

  1. Pick one new habit every month.
  2. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to do it every day at a specific time.
  3. Start out doing a ridiculously easy version of the habit. (For example, if your new habit is to exercise every day, start out doing only one pushup. That’s so ridiculously easy, you can do it in five seconds. Therefore, you will.)
  4. Do the ridiculously easy version of the habit every day for the first month. Then when you’ve done the hard work of creating the habit, start ramping up the habit to be more and more challenging. Eventually, you can make it as hard as you want, when the habit is cemented in your brain.

That’s all there is to it. In a month, your new habit will be in place and on autopilot. And you’ll move on to the next habit. And the next, and the next, and the next.

One new skill every month.

One new habit every month.

Do that for a year, and you’ll be thrilled at how far you’ve come.

Do that for five years, and everybody you know will be amazed at what an incredibly productive person you are.


Want to try evolving right along with me? Make a note on your calendar to remind yourself to pick a new skill and a new habit, right near the beginning of every month. (I choose mine the first Saturday of the month.) On the appointed day, pick a new habit to form and a new skill to learn and get rolling.

If you want, you can get a jump on February by starting now. That’ll give you the last bit of January and all of February for your first habit and your first skill. Then at the beginning of March, move on to the next habit and the next skill.

The real revolution is evolution.

This article is reprinted by permission of the author.

Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, “the Snowflake Guy,” publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 17,000 readers. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit

How are you keeping yourself organised and focused?




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